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How Social is Your Customer Care?

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When James Lloyd tried to book a flight from New Zealand to England via travel comparison site Skyscanner, he discovered a glitch in his itinerary. Amused, he posted a screenshot and question to the company’s Facebook page: “Just wondering what you’d recommend I do during the 47-year layover your website has suggested?”

He didn’t expect a response, but a customer service agent named Jen surprised him and the rest of the Internet. She suggested the Moon Bar, a cruise on the Chao Phraya River and Tai Chi lessons. The quirky post generated more than 17,000 likes and 2,700 shares – and gained the travel site some new customers.

While not every business may reap international praise for its interactions on social media, research shows doing this well pays off. Companies that view social care as an opportunity to create value improved year-over-year revenue per contact by 6.7%, according to research by management consulting firm McKinsey. In stark contrast, those that didn’t had a 12.1% decline.

Beyond revenue numbers, you can assess the quality of your social care by answering a few questions about your contact center.

Can your agents easily identify customers on social networks?

To personalize interactions and anticipate customer needs, businesses need to link social and CRM data, advises McKinsey. This enables contact center agents to identify a customer and their purchase history, then tailor a relevant social media response.

Can you respond to queries in real-time?

Consumers have high expectations for customer service via social media. How high? Sixty percent expect brands to respond within one hour, says Twitter. With the right contact center processes and tools in place, you can exceed these expectations.

Just as with phone calls, customer requests on social media should be automatically routed to the appropriate agent. In addition, aim to deploy a contact center solution that can scale easily. For example, you may want to engage remote agents in other time zones to deliver the round-the-clock customer service that social media demands.

Do you empower your agents to respond as humans?

Jen’s response to James was clever and sympathetic. But most importantly, it was human. While customer service scripts are important, always train your agents to treat them as jumping off points, not written-in-stone solutions. Provide clear guidance and training on overarching corporate policies and expectations but allow them the flexibility to respond to social media queries with authenticity and understanding.

Are agents able to quickly move conversations offline?

Social media responses don’t need to be a double-edged sword. Handling complaints swiftly and to the customer’s satisfaction can win you accolades both online and offline. But as agents know all too well, some queries are just too complex or risky to be handled in the public eye. Be sure your contact center solution has the ability and training to move the conversation seamlessly from social media to a private channel, such as phone or web chat.

If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, you’re probably doing a good job of delivering swift and effective social customer service. But if the answer to most is no, it’s time to re-evaluate your processes and tools in the contact center.

Remember, investments in better social care can generate bottom line benefits, including reduced customer service costs, increased customer satisfaction and loyalty, and more upsell and cross-sell opportunities.

Learn more about ShoreTel’s contact center solutions.

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